NEW HORRORS IN THE PAST FIVE DAYS
Atmospheric scientists from around the world are asking Environment Canada to back down from a plan that they believe would compromise ozone and radiation monitoring by putting it into the hands of an Information Technology computer expert.
On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Sept. 16 signing of the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty to reduce ozone-depleting pollution in the atmosphere, the scientists said they were shocked to learn about the budget cuts and staffing changes made by the Harper government.
The House of Commons is taking Canada’s auditor general to court to stop him from revealing documents around his high-profile F-35 committee appearance.
An application filed by the House of Commons in Federal Court last Friday shows House lawyers tried but failed to convince auditor general Michael Ferguson to reject an access to information request for his own correspondence.
Now they’re seeking a court injunction to gag the auditor general. It is likely the first time this has happened in Canada.
Just months after issuing notices to public servants that their jobs were being eliminated to save money the Defence Department is looking at paying a private firm $100 million to provide those same services, according to DND documents obtained by the Citizen.
(It looks like the Harper government’s strategy is to eliminate good paying union jobs and give contracts to their private sector buddies who will pay workers less and provide fewer benefits. The savings to the taxpayer will probably be minimal but the loss of good jobs could have huge economic impact on people and communities.)
ELECTION FRAUD COURT CASE UPDATE
The Conservative party’s phone bank company says its recordings of voter contact calls shouldn’t be given to lawyers who are challenging the results of the last election in certain ridings.
The Responsive Marketing Group (RMG) wants the Federal Court of Canada to block attempts to force the firm to provide scripts, audio recordings and other information about calls made to voters shortly before the May 2, 2011, vote.
Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are asking a judge to throw out all evidence provided by pollster Frank Graves in support of a legal bid to overturn Tory election victories in seven federal ridings.The Conservatives say Mr.
Graves, president of Ekos Research, is unfit to be an expert witness because, they charge, he’s biased against their party.
With great fanfare, an international organization has announced it is honouring Stephen Harper as its World Statesman of the Year for his work as a “champion of democracy, freedom and human rights.”
(A long but good read from someone who has been described as “close to the Conservative party”. Not so much anymore it seems.)
While the circumstance in Canada 2012 is obviously nowhere near as dystopian as what Orwell depicts in 1984, I really do think that there are some unsettling parallels going on here that we ignore at our peril. I also think it’s time to gather the facts…. and fight back.
Technically, a national security court case now taking place in a Toronto is part of a long effort to determine whether Egyptian-born Mohamed Mahjoub represents a threat to Canada.
But the hearing before Federal Court Justice Edmond Blanchard has turned into something else. It’s no longer just about 52-year-old Mahjoub, a man the government wants deported for his alleged terrorist ties. Instead it has become about the government itself.
MAKING POLICY BASED ON IDEOLOGY – NO CONSULTATION REQUIRED
NOT WITH THE CORPORATE WORLD
A senior oil executive is urging federal and provincial governments to put a significant price on carbon dioxide to encourage the industry to reduce emissions even as it increases production and accesses new and growing markets.
(In the mind of the Harper regime, this probably makes the president of Shell Canada a corporate radical!)
NOT WITH THE OPPOSITION PARTIES
It’s a bit of back to the future for federal MPs when they return to Ottawa Monday for the fall session of Parliament, as the Conservative government prepares to table what’s expected to be another controversial budget implementation bill.
NOT WITH CHURCHES
The ongoing saga of the sometimes-strained relationship between the Harper government and Canada’s Catholic bishops is about to enter a new phase at the end of this month. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, himself a Catholic, took on the bishops last year when he lashed back at their criticisms of his refugee policies. The bishops, along with Protestant and Muslim religious leaders, had written to Mr. Kenney:
“References by representatives of your government to ‘bogus’ refugee claimants undermine Canada’s obligations to refugee protection and question the credibility of refugees fleeing persecution and seeking to have their rights recognized…They also foster hostility towards refugees and fuel xenophobia in general.”
In response, the immigration minister told the bishops that, in essence, they didn’t know what they were talking about, and that they were being led by what he has described as the various lefty, social-justice Catholics who worked in their offices.
(Many Canadians have legitimate concerns about immigration and refugee policy. The question is, can the Harper government be trusted to make fair and effective changes?)
NOT WITH LAWYERS INVOLVED IN ISSUES
Tighter timelines for refugee claims brought in as part of the Harper government’s controversial new refugee laws could cost up to $1 million in computer updates alone. …
Veteran immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman said computer upgrades at the IRB are welcome. The real problem, for him and other critics, is spending money on a flawed refugee system. “All of us want a fair and efficient refugee determination system, but this one quite frankly doesn’t meet the bill,” said Waldman.
Waldman predicts the new rules and timelines will result in major legal challenges – and costs – because they compromise a refugee’s right to a fair hearing….
Another immigration lawyer Ed Corrigan called the new laws a “big step backwards.” “It is going to affect the quality of the decisions at the refugee board and it is going to lead to serious problems getting proper representation for the refugees,” he said. Corrigan called the new timelines absurd and said they would lead to court challenges. “Virtually every lawyer says the same thing: The timelines are virtually impossible to deal with,” he said. “I do not see where the savings are going to come from.”
PROMOTING WAR, CONFLICT AND DIVISION
Government House leader Peter Van Loan told CBC Radio’s The House that the Canadian government intends to take the “opposite approach” to the office, noting that while the American tradition is for a separation of church and state, the Canadian Constitution actually entrenches religion in areas like education….
“Interestingly, the U.S. commission on international religious freedom itself made some statements after the announcement [saying] ‘don’t make the mistakes that we did. This office should be multi-faith, multi-religious, representing many communities out there experiencing religious persecution.’ That is a self-criticism they would make,” Epp Buckingham says.
Besides napping, Tory MP Rob Anders is well-known for taking controversial positions. But on the War of 1812?
In a recent newsletter, the MP compares the 1812 conflict to “the last 10 years of warfare against Islamic terrorism.”
The Liberal prime minister who famously declared the 20th century would belong to Canada will soon be sharing a corner of Parliament Hill with a new Conservative government monument to the 19th century.
As part of a nearly $30-million spending binge to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the Tories are erecting a memorial to the long-ago conflict that pitted the United States against what would later become Canada.